Board of Governors Candidates’ Platform Statements
This year’s balloting has one race each in the 11th and Out-of-State circuits
Here are the platform statements for the 2023 candidates for The Florida Bar Board of Governors.
Members in the circuits with contested races may vote by accessing the MyFloridaBar Member Portal on The Florida Bar’s website. Voted ballots must be received prior to 11:59 p.m. EST, March 21. If you requested a mail ballot, they will be mailed March 1.
This year’s balloting has one race each in the 11th and Out-of-State circuits. The winners will be sworn in during the June Annual Convention in Boca Raton.
Richard P. Cole
I am running for an open seat on The Florida Bar Board of Governors to continue serving the Miami legal community. I have served our profession in every elected position of the Dade County Bar Association (including as President), former President of the American Board of Trial Advocates (Miami-Dade Chapter), Board of Governor appointed member of The Florida Bar Grievance Committee, and an Advisory Committee member of the Volunteer Lawyers’ Project for the Southern District of Florida. I served as Vice Chairman and then Chairman of the Grievance Committee for the Southern District of Florida for 10 years. My colleagues have selected me as a Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated Preeminent attorney, leading lawyers of Florida by the Florida Trend Magazine (2005-2021); Florida Super Lawyers (2006-2022); and Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient (2019-2022); Power Leaders 250 (Executives Selected from the Region’s Top Public and Private Companies) by South Florida Business Journal (2022).
In the broader community, I give back by having served as President, Kiwanis Breakfast Club of Miami; President, 200 Club of Miami; Vice Chairman, Easter Seal Society of Dade County; Chairman, Interim Boundaries Committee for the City of Miami; Pillar, United Way of Dade County; Executive Committee of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; and former Dean’s Circle/Dean’s Council for University of Miami. I was the donor of the year for both the United Way and Baptist Health of Miami.
As Managing Partner of Cole Scott Kissane, I focus on the overall management and supervision of the firm. I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida, where I served as Student Body President and as a member of Florida Blue Key. I am currently a Trustee of the University of Florida and was the Law School’s Alumnus of the Year in 2022.
There are currently unprecedented attacks on our profession, such as attempts to remove local lawyers from the judicial appointment process as well as allowing nonlawyers to provide legal counsel. The Florida Bar must be attuned to the needs of the everyday practicing lawyer. I think my perspective is unique in that I was with a mid-sized firm of about 45 lawyers, then started my own firm with just a few lawyers and now manage the biggest all Florida law firm with almost 600 attorneys (notably, a firm whose Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) among large law firms ranks 1st in Florida and 2nd in the country). I am seeking your support so I can work to strengthen the practice of law, make technology more accessible to all attorneys, provide CLE seminars at significantly reduced rates, and to safeguard the practice of law and judiciary from over-zealous legislators. Sadly, biases still exist, and The Florida Bar must be more proactive in eliminating disparities in the legal workplace. Further, The Florida Bar can and should do more to foster diversity and inclusion, provide confidential mental health programs for members, and host more programs geared to assist young lawyers.
I want to be your 11th Circuit representative for the Board of Governors. Having started my career as an Assistant Public Defender and then Assistant Federal Defender, I have always had a desire to give back. I started my voluntary bar service in 2006, starting with the Miami Dade Bar Association Young Lawyer Section and the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL). I served as president of FACDL Miami and am the immediate past president of the Miami Dade Bar, one of the largest voluntary bar associations in Florida.
Having recently served as president, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with the attorneys in our community and understand their needs and the issues facing practicing attorneys today. I believe that it’s important for there to be a Board of Governors that reflects our diverse Miami-Dade community. In addition to my diverse background, I understand the difficulties that go into running my small firm business, Puglisi Carames.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve practiced criminal defense. I am board certified in criminal trial and feel strongly that it’s important all practice areas are represented on our Board of Governors. Currently, there are no criminal attorneys on the 11th Circuit Board of Governors. Of the over 50 Board of Governors in the State of Florida, there are only two members that practice criminal law. My experience in criminal law will help when new rules or rule modifications are proposed, allowing me to add insight into how a proposed rule will affect our community of lawyers positively or negatively. In addition to my local voluntary service, I have been a director at large for the statewide Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for over ten years. My work with FACDL would help to further the interests of criminal practitioners in our community.
I urge everyone to vote because every vote counts; and, I would ask that you vote for Sabrina Vora-Puglisi because I would be honored to represent the interests of attorneys in the 11th Circuit and help to ensure that everyone is fairly represented.
• Board Certified Criminal Trial with over 20 years of litigation experience
• Immediate Past-President Miami Dade Bar Association
• Director at Large, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
• Past President, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Miami chapter
• Miami Dade Bar co-chair to Community Service Committee and Florida Law Con
• Former Assistant Public Defender and Assistant Federal Defender
• University of Miami School of Law
Let’s continue working together to make Florida the premier place to be a lawyer.
I have been fortunate to serve as one of the Out-of-State Florida Bar Board of Governors since 2007 and, before that, to serve five years on The Florida Bar Young Lawyer’s Division Board of Governors (YLDBOG). While a strong proponent of vision and change, I am mindful of the importance of maintaining historical perspective. On behalf of the Out-of-State and instate Florida lawyers, I am proud to have accomplished:
• Created an award for Florida attorneys practicing fifty years in any combination of states. The Bar previously recognized 50-year members, and now are recognizing the accomplishments of member attorneys practicing a total of fifty years in a combination of states. The Bar leads the country in this area.
• Selected by several Florida Bar Presidents to serve as the Chair of the Out-of-State Circuit’s annual Pro Bono Award recognizing Out-of-State attorneys for their Pro Bono work.
• Addressed difficulties encountered by Out-of-State Florida attorneys with the statutory exclusion of most non-residents not being able to serve as personal representatives in Florida estates. Submitted draft legislative position to the Out-of-State Division (OOSD) recommending that the statute be amended to allow non-resident Florida Bar members to serve as personal representatives.
• Served as the OOSD CLE Program Chair and Instructor during various Annual Meetings, one of which experienced one of the largest turnouts at that time.
• Hosted OOSD’s first Internet-based CLE.
• Organized, as OOSD CLE Chair and speaker, popular CLE presentations around the country that allowed the Division to use revenues to host receptions for Division members to network with fellow attorneys.
Serving as a nonresident BOG requires deep understanding of nonresident lawyers’ concerns, leadership, collaboration, and aggressive advocacy to represent Florida lawyers. My experience, work ethic and broad- based support enable me to fulfill these high standards. I am honored to have received support and endorsement from OOSD members and many lawyers nationwide.
The Florida Bar has played a large role in my life. While on the YLDBOG, I proposed to my wife, Susan, during a Florida/Florida State football game and our two children have attended many Bar functions in Florida. I am additionally admitted by Ohio, Illinois, U.S. Supreme Court, and a CPA/MBA.
I am privileged to have served as OOSD President, two years as OOSD President-elect, Florida Bar Audit Committee Chair several times, Trustee of Lawyer’s Club of Cincinnati (raising thousands of dollars for local organizations), and served as CLE Coordinator and Chair of the Cincinnati Bar Association Solo/Small Firm Practitioners Committee. I have developed strong relationships with a great group of Florida Lawyers.
My primary commitments are:
• Enhance Bar Programs & Benefits that have distinguished this Bar.
• Promote Inclusiveness of our nonresident diverse membership, especially by reaching OOS members who feel disenfranchised.
• Maintain Judicial Independence.
I ask for your support to continue serving as an advocate for nonresident and resident Florida lawyers and can be contacted at (513) 826-0229, [email protected] Please vote for Eric Meeks, Out-of-State Circuit.
G. C. Murray II
With over 15,000 members, Out of State lawyers represent the second-largest constituency in The Florida Bar. The collective voices of Out of State lawyers should therefore resound in all levels of The Bar — in leadership, in policy, and, most importantly, in action. The unique demand to ensure that we, as the Out of State Division’s mission states, “ensur[e] equitable treatment for in-state and out-of-state Florida Bar members” should permeate and guide every decision made by The Florida Bar Board of Governors. I am running for this seat because I want to amplify our voice and work to achieve that aforementioned mission of “equal footing.”
I have spent my entire 10-year career focusing on the existential threats to our profession and our abilities to practice law as we do today. Throughout that time, I have dealt with policy issues as a governor on the Young Lawyers Division, I’ve reviewed substantive changes to our rules as the chair of the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee (CREC), and I’ve protected the public as a member of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. Though those times were difficult, I’ve never felt more uneasy with our profession’s future. At every turn, we must push back against legislative and executive proposed reforms, implications on unified bars from cases like Janus, the likely deleterious effects of nonlawyer firm ownership, and even the shift in the Court and Bar’s interactions. If the past is prologue, there is still reason for hope. Throughout every major ideological challenge, the Bar, through its members, has risen to the occasion. I want to continue being on the side of those who push for the integrity of our profession which directly results in the public’s protection.
We can continue to grow as a profession from the thrust of that push. At the highest levels of Bar leadership, we need to be able to talk about issues that are important both personally and professionally with people from all backgrounds. Despite Out of State Lawyers being younger and more diverse than our in-state counterparts, we still need more diversity in our leadership. I’m running because I believe there’s room for more voices at the table when it comes to making decisions that affect everyone — and that means hearing from people who have different perspectives than those currently represented on the Board.
The Bar can, and should, better serve the unique needs of Out of State Lawyers. This means supporting our ability to have CLEs from other jurisdictions counted, providing more resources to improve the collaboration of Out of State Lawyers with each other, to name a few. I am humbled by the endorsements I have received from past Presidents of The Florida Bar and other leaders of the Bar. I respectfully ask that you vote for me to represent you in Seat 3, so I can continue to be an ambassador to Out of State Lawyers and a resource to the public.